Renewal That Leaves a Plaza

Here is a renovation site at the southeast corner of Manhattan Avenue and West 116th Street in Harlem — another project financed through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The building to the left is 316 West 116th Street and the one to the right is 374 Manhattan Avenue. Both abut a corner site, which was an an empty lot where it appeared that a building had once stood. Instead of building on the corner, the architects have decided to leave it alone and gain space instead by expanding the avenue-fronting into the rear of its yard. The creation of that odd little plaza has the unfortunate effect of breaking the continuity of the street wall and creating what in Midtown could be derided as a bleak, uninviting plaza. This plaza will serve, in my mind at least, as a permenent reminder of the decades of disinvestment in urban neighborhoods where buildings burned or collapsed and left rubble-filled vacant lots in their place. But otherwise, it is great to see the renovation of these buildings, and the construction of new buildings behind the shells of old buildings. This way we can capture a charm that seems impossible to replace with new architecture while allowing for large new interior spaces. The developers may even have connected the interiors of these buildings, which would be cool. I used to walk past this site every day. The old tenements were falling apart — one could see the sky right through them.

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One Response to Renewal That Leaves a Plaza

  1. Anonymous says:

    What’s with the Lincoln Towncars in some of the pictures? lol

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